A/N: This story takes place in Season 2. The team members are Miss Martian, Superboy, Robin II (Tim Drake), Batgirl, Bumblebee, Blue Beetle, and Beast Boy.
They landed on the beach.
"Superboy! Hey, man, get up!"
Superboy felt himself being shaken, and the voice that was calling him echoed in his head, bouncing around in his skull and causing a massive headache. When he finally managed to crack his eyes open, the sunlight was blindingly bright, which only caused his headache to worsen. The only relief came in the fact that the person who was shaking him was blocking out part of the solar rays.
"C'mon, man! Up and at 'em!" Blue Beetle shook the Kryptonian once more before Superboy pushed him away. He sat up, wincing at the pain in his head as he looked around, surveying for damage control. Seven, including himself, had ended up on the beach. A beach, rather, since he had no idea where they were.
Robin was with Batgirl, who had removed her cowl and was shaking sand from her hair and the mask. The two of them were whispering about something. Bumblebee, Beast Boy, and Miss Martian were sitting together, all suffering from the same headache. Bumblebee's cowl was down.
"Oh," Bumblebee moaned, her hands fisted in her hair, "My head hurts."
"My everything hurts!" Blue Beetle complained. "We hit the ground hard!"
"Did we?" Robin said, looking up from his intense conversation with Batgirl. He surveyed the terrain. "It doesn't look like we came crashing out of the sky. No points of impact, no drag marks, no footprints. No sign of us arriving."
"Well, we're here, aren't we? Isn't that proof enough that we got here somehow?" Beast Boy said. Robin just shook his head.
"Who knows how long we've been out? The marks could have been blown away by the wind," Miss Martian said. Sure enough, there was a slight ocean breeze tossing up small grains of sand.
"No, no, no, no," Robin said, "That's not right. I don't know about aliens, but humans burn in the sun. The sun's out, and it's bright. If we'd been out long, we would have been able to tell. I woke up face-up, and there's not so much as a reddened face." He continued to scan the area with scrutiny.
"What's the last thing any of us can remember?" Batgirl asked.
"We were… on a mission," Superboy said, "Routine, I don't know. Nothing out of the ordinary."
"I don't know about you guys, but I just fell unconscious. I remember sizing up as we investigated another Krolotean base, and then suddenly, everything went dark, and now we're here." Bumblebee added. Nods of consent went around the group; that was the last thing they could remember, too.
"So they knocked us unconscious and dropped us on some random beach?" Beast Boy asked. "Where on earth are we?"
"I…" Robin said, finally turning back to the team, "I don't think we're on Earth."
Most of the team looked at him in shock. Batgirl just nodded.
"What do you mean, not on Earth?" Blue Beetle asked.
"This has to be Earth. Earth terrain, one sun, average temperature… There can't be another planet out there that looks like Earth. Not within Krolotean reach, anyway." Miss Martian said.
"Look around." Robin said. "Does this really look like Earth?"
He was answered with a wave of nods.
"No. Think about it." He gestured to the water. "Have you ever seen an ocean that clear and blue?" he kicked his feet against the ground. "Sand that white? And look around," he waved his arms wide, "No seaweed, driftwood, or crushed shells anywhere. I'd bet, if you went into the ocean, you wouldn't find any marine life. No rocks, no seaweed, nothing. Come to think of it," he looked to the sky, "No birds. At all."
"What about your GPS?" Blue Beetle asked, "What does that say?"
"Not getting a clear reading. It's toggling between Earth and nowhere."
"Nowhere?" Beast Boy asked, "This doesn't look like nowhere."
"No, you're right. We're definitely somewhere." Robin said.
"But where?" Superboy asked to nobody in particular.
Robin motioned for the team to follow him. "Come on. It looks like there's a walkway a bit farther down the shoreline. That'll lead us to town, or at least somewhere else."
When they reached the wooden staircase that led up the embankment of the beach, Miss Martian couldn't help but notice how perfect the wood was. There wasn't a single snag, chip, or splinter in the wood. Each nail was driven in perfectly. No sand had been kicked onto the bottom stair, as if nobody had ever walked there. Not even the wind stirred up enough grains to rest on the wood.
Blue Beetle, the last in line, noted the flawless structure as well. Just because the cookie-cutter perfection was beginning to creep him out, he went out of his way to dig his foot into the sand and kick sand up onto the bottom step before climbing.
When he reached the third step, he turned around. The sand on the step had disappeared.
Everyone stopped at the top of the stairs. Robin, the first to go, was already kneeling on the wooden walkway, head to the ground, butt in the air, looking at the grass on eye level. Everyone else just stared in wonder; on either side of the walkway was grass, stretching parallel to the shoreline as far as the eye could see. It looked to be perfectly trimmed, and it was all the perfect shade of green. Not a single dead blade could be found.
Robin confirmed this idea when he stood.
"Each blade of grass is exactly the same height. There are no dead, dry edges to the grass. And," he bent over, plucking two blades from the ground, "They're exactly the same shape. No lightening of color near the root, either. This grass is…"
"Perfect." Bumblebee said. "Of course."
"Hey, hey guys," Superboy said, "I think there's a town over there."
Sure enough, off in the distance, buildings could be made out along the horizon. Now with a clear target in mind, the team once again set off.
The situation really did not improve upon entering the town.
The wooden walkway gave way to a concrete sidewalk. A sidewalk that, every one now noticed, contained no stray cracks, no markings, no stains. It was clean, perfect concrete.
The street itself was newly paved and painted, and it seemed that every car was brand new as well. The buildings lining the street were bright and clean. The team as a group steered towards the nearest of these buildings. Robin pushed open the door, and the team was greeted with the cool, creamy sweet atmosphere of an ice cream parlor.
Robin frowned; the place was completely empty.
"This doesn't make any sense," Miss Martian said. "There's nobody here at all, but the place is completely clean and fully stocked."
"Well, somebody has to be here. The ice cream'll go bad if it's not replaced." Bumblebee said.
Superboy walked to the counter, peering through the glass. The ice cream in the containers looked fresh and new. He rested his hand on the counter, leaning over to get a better look at the merchandise.
"Can I help you?"
"Ah!" the team screamed collectively, completely taken aback by the arrival of a newcomer. A man stood behind the counter, a man who hadn't been there a few seconds before.
Superboy regained his composure quickly, eyeing the man behind the counter up and down. It was a tall, thin guy with blonde hair and pale skin. He wore a pink polo and visor. A blank white nametag was pinned to his shirt, and he had a smile on his face and a scooper in his hand.
"Can I help you?" he repeated. "What would you like to order?"
"N-Nothing," Superboy said, retreating back towards his teammates. They were all fairly shaken, too.
"What is going on? I swear, there's no way that guy was there before," Batgirl said. She absentmindedly rested her hand on the back of one of the chairs nearby. As she did so, her fingers brushed something, and she jumped back with a yelp of surprise.
A little boy was now sitting in the chair, a cup of ice cream in front of him. The team stared, mouths agape.
"I-is he real?" Miss Martian asked. Batgirl walked behind the boy, approaching him from the side and kneeling. As she did so, she rested her hand on the tabletop for balance.
Suddenly, two more people appeared at the table; a young girl and an older man. The three looked alike, and it was clear that the man was the father of both of the children. Batgirl stood quickly, shocked. She turned just in time to see Beast Boy and Blue Beetle getting ready to settle at a table.
"Don't touch the furniture!" Batgirl shrieked, but it was already too late. The second the boys touched the chairs, people appeared at the table. Both of them reacted in shock, and Miss Martian quickly walked over and ushered them to the door.
The team congregated right outside the door, on the sidewalk. When they were in a group, Bumblebee, Miss Martian, and Superboy exchanged glances.
"What?" Robin asked, "What is it?"
"That was Tom," Bumblebee said. Superboy nodded. "He works at the Happy Harbor Ice Cream Shoppe."
"No," Miss Martian said, "That wasn't Tom. Tom's snarky and mean."
"But it looked just like him," Superboy said.
"No, that's… that's… it's just not him. It looks like him, but it's not him."
While they discussed, a small girl walked by. She looked to be around four years old, and she wore a pink jumper. Her brown hair hung long and straight. She walked into the ice cream parlor and pulled herself up onto one of the tall barstools. Behind the counter, the tall blonde guy smiled a big smile. She tentatively returned that smile.
"Hello there, little girl. I'm Tom."
"This still doesn't make any sense. Just by touching something, we… I dunno, do we just create people?" Bumblebee said. She was now very careful about touching things.
"I think it goes deeper than that." Robin said. "Superboy, you knew the guy behind the counter. And Batgirl, I know that that family frequents the ice cream shop on Macon Avenue, the one we usually hit after school." He turned to Beast Boy and Blue Beetle. "Did you two recognize the people who appeared in the seats you touched?"
Both of them gave half-nods. "It's like," Blue Beetle started, "It's like I recognize them, but only as a face in the crowd. I know I've seen them before, but I don't know them."
"But you've seen them in ice cream shops." Robin clarified. Both nodded again. Robin stood, motioning for the others to follow. "I have a theory I want to test."
The grocery store was nondescript. Clean, tan paint on the outside, the word "Grocery" in big green letters above the awning. On the inside, a row of clean cashier stands, each complete and fully-stocked. And, most of all, it was empty.
Robin walked over to the cash register with the number seven on a sign above it. "Batgirl," he said, "Isn't there a middle-aged Russian woman named Katrina working Register 7 at the grocery store on seventh?" Batgirl nodded. Robin reached a hand out and slowly placed his palm on the register.
The team watched as a woman materialized behind the register in an instant. Her nametag read "Katrina".
"That's… that's crazy," Blue Beetle said.
Miss Martian walked over to a register a short distance away. "The bag boy at register ten is a high schooler named Trey, right?" she reached out and touched the bags.
A boy of average height appeared, wearing a green apron. His nametag read "Trey".
"So…" Superboy said, catching on, "It's not specific to location. Just because Trey and Katrina work in different stores, in different states, they're still both here."
"Exactly. It all depends on the character that the person who touches the object envisions there." Robin said. He had a thoughtful expression on his face. "Come on, let's look around some more."
They walked down street after street, careful to not touch anything. The streets were deserted.
"So, this world," Bumblebee began, "It's like one of our creation?"
"I don't think so. Not exactly." Robin said.
"Then why is it that everything we touch suddenly becomes populated by people we know?" she said.
"I've got a theory," he said.
"Well, please, enlighten us!"
"I don't have everything worked out yet. I might be completely off-base. I promise, I-" Robin stopped, noticing that Bumblebee was no longer listening. Instead, she was standing in front of one of the houses on the street, mouth open in shock.
"This-this is my house."
"What?" Robin said, "That's not possible."
"It is!" She made for the door. "This is my house. That's my dad's car in the driveway." The team followed her into the house.
"Bee, wait!" Batgirl called. Bumblebee paused.
"Just… be careful not to touch anything. Okay?" Batgirl said.
Bumblebee nodded. "It's just, I mean, this is my house? How?"
"Maybe," Robin said, "Maybe it's more than people. Maybe it's objects, too. You wanted to see your house, and so here it is."
"But I didn't want to see my house."
Robin was about to say something else, but Miss Martian stopped him.
A small girl stood in the doorway of the house. She wore a pink jumper, and her brown hair hung sort of in her face.
"Huh?" Bumblebee said. She walked towards the doorway.
"Have you ever seen her before? Maybe you created her when you created the house." Robin said.
"I told you, I didn't create the house. And I've never seen this girl in my life."
"Anyone else? Anybody know who this girl is?" Nobody knew.
Bumblebee approached the girl. "Hello. Who're you?"
The girl didn't speak. Bumblebee knelt in front of her. "Are you lost? Do you want to go home?"
The girl shook her head, but remained silent. Bumblebee reached out a hand.
"Come here. I'm not going to hurt you." The girl looked at Bumblebee, slowly raising her hand to take the older girl's. "That's all right, we can-" As soon as the girl held Bumblebee's hand, Bumblebee disappeared.
"Bee?" Batgirl cried. Everyone else stood completely still with shock. Batgirl rushed over to the child. "What did you do?" she said. "Where's Bumblebee?" The girl backed to the door.
"Bring her back!" Blue Beetle said.
"Please," Batgirl said. When the little girl continued to retreat, Batgirl reached out to catch the girl by the arm. She reeled back, swatting Batgirl's hand away.
"Batgirl!" Robin cried. He glared at the child. The girl just stood there, seemingly unaware to the fact that she had just made two people disappear. She looked at what was left of the team.
"Guys," Robin said in a low whisper, "We need to get out of the house." He started to move towards a window.
The girl looked up then, confusion knotted in her features. Robin reached the window, but, to his dismay, it was jammed. Superboy pushed him out of the way. He swung both arms in front of him, knotting his fingers together, and slammed his hands into the window. It shattered.
The girl's expression morphed to one of pain and sadness. She was upset. Upset that they had broken her window. She started towards them.
"Guys, we need to get out! Out, out, out now!" Beast Boy said. Everyone piled through the window, careful not to snag on broken glass. When they were all outside, they took off.
The girl stood by the window, watching them go. Around her bare feet were piles of broken glass. That wouldn't do. Things shouldn't be broken here.
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. When she opened them again, the window was fixed.
A few blocks over, the team settled in the park.
"Who was she?" Blue Beetle asked, "How did she do that?"
"I don't know. Is she another person trapped here? Like us? Because none of us recognize her." Superboy said.
"You're right." Miss Martian said, "If the people here come from our memories, then she shouldn't exist. Unless, of course, she's trapped here like us."
"But what did she do to Bumblebee and Batgirl?" Beast Boy said.
"Maybe she's a meta," Blue Beetle said.
"That still doesn't explain what happened to them," Beast Boy said.
"Actually," Robin said, speaking up for the first time since they left the house, "Miss Martian, Superboy, I think you're wrong."
"This have something to do with that theory of yours?" Superboy asked.
Robin nodded. "Yeah."
"Well, spill!" Blue Beetle said.
"Something seemed off to me right when we arrived. You've all undoubtedly noticed just how perfect this world is. It's the ideal world."
"Yeah, man. It's creepy perfect. Like, I kicked some sand on the stairs, and when I turned around, it was gone."
Robin nodded. "The sand, the grass, the leaves, it's all ideal. Now, before any of you saw an actual beach, can you remember being told about it? People told you about the water, the sand, and you envisioned the perfect beach. However, you weren't told of the things that might mess it up: dead jellyfish, driftwood, shells, none of that was brought to your attention."
"So this is the perfect world?" Superboy said.
"Yes. This world was created by someone who's never seen a beach. Someone who's never been to a town like this. But they've been told of it, and for them, this is how it should be."
"And you think," Beast Boy said, realization dawning on him and the rest of the group, "That the person who created this world is…"
"The little girl. Yes. It would explain why none of us have ever seen her before. Somehow, we've stumbled upon her perfect pretend world."
"But how?" Blue Beetle said.
"She's created a completely self-sustaining alternate reality that's absolutely tangible and real, and she's a four year old girl. I don't think that the idea of her being able to bring us here is too far-fetched." Miss Martian said.
"Then why did she react like she did when she saw us?"
"We also don't know how our memories are being reflected on our surroundings." Superboy said.
"Well, that's all they are. Reflections," Miss Martian said, "Images. Not actually the person at all."
"That's right," Robin said, "You guys said that Tom is usually mean, but he seemed perfectly nice when serving ice cream. It's just their bodies, their images that we see. Their minds, if they even have them, and I don't think they do, are being controlled so that they are nice. Everybody in this world is nice. And, since I doubt that the people that we see are real, I'm going to say that the default for every reflection is 'happy'."
"So they're like puppets?" Beast Boy said, "And they just look like people we know."
"But why did she react… uh, guys?" Blue Beetle said.
"Exactly. They're just reflections, like Miss Martian said." Robin said to Beast Boy.
"It's kind of important…" Blue Beetle said.
"Somehow, touching an object that has a direct association with a person in our minds brings that person into this world, or an image of them." Superboy said.
"But that image isn't a person. It's like they're programmed to react, talk, think the way they do, because that little girl wants a perfect, happy world," Miss Martian said.
"What, Beetle?" Robin snapped. Blue Beetle gulped.
A short distance down the sidewalk of the empty park, the girl stood. She began making her way towards them.
"Uh, no, little girl. Please, uh, please don't come any closer…" Blue Beetle said, holding up his hands. The girl continued to come closer, so Beetle morphed his hands into weapons. "Stay back!"
The girl stopped, eyes wide at the threat being made towards her. Suddenly, her chin began to quiver. Small whimpers could be heard.
"Beetle!" Robin said, "Not helping!"
"I'm sorry! I didn't know she was going to cry!" Blue Beetle said. He turned to the child. "Uh, please, please don't cry! It's, uh, it's okay! Don't cry! What can I do to make you feel better?"
The girl looked at him. Her chin still quivered, but she tilted her head, curious at his offer. Silently, she pointed to the swing set.
"What?" Blue Beetle said. The girl kept pointing.
"Go to the swing set, Beetle. She's dangerous; we don't want to upset her." Robin said.
"Okay, okay, I'm going to the swing set," Blue Beetle said, backing towards the playground equipment. His hand brushed up against the bar.
The sound of children's laughter startled the team. However, the laughter was not coming from the girl. Instead, the sound came from the two children who had just appeared on the swing set. The child approached the swing set, smiling as she watched the children play.
"So that's it," Robin said, watching the scene before him.
"What do you mean, 'that's it'?" Superboy asked.
"That's why we're here. That's why she brought us—Beetle!"
Miss Martian, Superboy, and Beast Boy turned. Blue Beetle had vanished, and standing where he had been was the girl, there by the pole, and watching the children play.
"She-she got Blue Beetle…" Beast Boy said.
"No. This has gone on long enough. We need to get her to… Where'd she go?" Robin said. The girl had vanished.
"Rrgh!" Robin grunted, kicking at the ground. "I've had enough of this!" He turned. "Miss Martian, scan the area. We need to find this girl, now."
Miss Martian nodded. Her eyes glowed as she expanded her mental field, searching for the girl. After a moment, she broke it off, groaning as she clutched her head.
"What's wrong?" Superboy asked. She shook her head.
"I'm not sure. I just… I couldn't get a definite read. I can give you a general area, though."
The neighborhood was quiet, as expected. Nobody lived there. Miss Martian gestured towards a cluster of houses.
"She's somewhere in there," she said.
"Alright then. We're going in a group; without Miss Martian's telepathic link, we won't be able to communicate otherwise. Don't want to risk anyone disappearing unnoticed, either." They started into the first house.
"Hey, Robin," Superboy said after a moment, "What did you mean earlier? What did you mean by 'that's it'?"
"I figured out why we're here. I still don't know how, but this girl subconsciously brought us into her world."
"How do you know? And why did her subconscious decide to bring us here?"
"She reacted badly," Robin said, "When she first noticed us. Or, at least, when she first confronted us. We were messing with her world, and she didn't want us here if we were going to do that."
"I still don't follow." Superboy admitted.
"What was the first thing we noticed when we went into the town?"
"The sidewalk didn't have a crack in it." Superboy said.
"No, no," Robin shook his head, "After that."
Superboy thought as he searched the house. "It's empty."
"Exactly. Why would a girl with this much power leave her perfect world unpopulated? Unless, that is, she couldn't do it herself." Robin said as he closed the door, deeming the house unoccupied. They moved onto the next.
"It's huge and detailed," Miss Martian said when they entered the next house, "Which means she obviously spent a lot of time on it. Going off of that, we can assume that she doesn't go out much. Doesn't interact with others. She can imagine what the inside of an ice cream parlor is like, but she doesn't know what kind of people will be there." She searched the rooms.
"Which is why she needed us. She let us influence the population of her world. By using the small, subconscious thoughts that run through our heads when we see something we're familiar with, and bringing them to life on her stage." Robin said.
"And the others? Why did she take them away?" Beast Boy said.
"Her subconscious brought us here, but when she first saw us, she knew we weren't her creation. She walked by, when we were outside the ice cream parlor. However, whatever suspicion she may have had was sort of… overshadowed by her joy at having people in her world. Things changed, however, when Bumblebee saw her house." Miss Martian said. "You're right, Robin, Bumblebee did create the house. Unintentionally, of course. She saw one that she thought looked like her house, and she subconsciously made that house hers. And the creator didn't like that Bee was messing with her world like that, so she came to see what was going on." She closed the door on the house. Time for the next one.
"And then made Bumblebee disappear." Superboy said. He opened the door of the third house.
"I don't think she meant to. She saw Bumblebee, someone who wasn't supposed to be here, and she made her go away. When you see something you don't like, you want it to go away. She probably wanted to make all of us go away, but we escaped." Miss Martian explained.
"She didn't make Blue Beetle go away, at least not at first. Because he tried to reason with her. Tried to give her what she wanted," Robin said.
"And then she did make him disappear," Beast Boy said.
"Maybe," Miss Martian said, "Maybe it's another subconscious. When she touches us, she acknowledges that we're real. But we can't be, because it's not possible for real people to be in her world. So we're ejected by her subconscious, and she probably has no idea what she did."
"But how?" Beast Boy asked. "How can she do that?"
"That takes massive power," Robin said, "We need to find out what she-"
"Shh…" Superboy said, raising a hand. "There's someone else here." He closed his eyes, focusing on the sounds around him, before pointing to a door beneath the stairs. "Through there."
"You think it's…" Miss Martian said. Superboy nodded.
Robin crept to the door, motioning for the others to wait. He opened the door, revealing a staircase that descended into darkness. He started down the stairs.
Superboy could hear Robin as he went. Footsteps on a wooden staircase stopped, only to be replaced by the tapping of feet on concrete. And then, the speaking started.
"You." A pause followed. "You need to come with me, okay?" Another pause. "What happened to my friends? What did you do to them?" Softer footsteps. "No, don't… I need to talk to you. Why won't you answer? Look, this is your world, and you can do whatever you want here, but please, let us go. I know why we're here. But keeping us here is wrong, do you understand?" Two sets of footsteps this time. "I'm sorry, but you have to stop this. Stop-hey!"
"No," Superboy said, "She got Robin."
The three rushed down the stairs. The girl, the creator of this world, was standing alone in the basement. A single bare light bulb overhead illuminated the room. The girl had a juice box in her hand, and she was drinking out of it with half-closed eyes as she watched the three.
"Who is she? What is she?" Beast Boy said. Miss Martian approached the girl.
"Miss Martian, stop! Don't go closer!" Superboy said.
"I'll be fine. I just… so long as she's here, and she's not disappearing, I can try to read her mind. Find out who she is." Miss Martian walked closer, kneeling a few feet away from the girl.
"Just don't touch her," Superboy said. Miss Martian nodded and raised a hand to her head. Her eyes glowed.
A moment later, she dropped her hand and fell back, gasping.
"What? What is it?" Beast Boy said. He and Superboy started towards her.
"No! Don't come any closer." Miss Martian warned them. She raised a hand and wiped furiously at her eyes, which were tearing up. She was still gasping.
"M'gann…" Superboy said. The child looked over at Superboy, then back at Miss Martian. Her eyebrows drew together in concern, and she tilted her head as if she was thinking. She removed the juice box from her mouth.
"I… I figured it out. I know who she is," Miss Martian said, her voice cracking.
"What? Who is she, then?" Beast Boy said.
"She's… she's me."
Miss Martian buried her face in her hands. The girl seemed to show remorse or concern, and stepped towards her. She reached out a hand, as if to comfortingly pat Miss Martian's knee.
"M'gann, no!" Superboy said, but it was too late. In an instant, Miss Martian was gone. In that same instant, the child's disguise dissipated. She was still humanoid, but her peach skin was replaced by stark white, and her eyes and hair were vibrantly red.
This seemed to be the final straw for the child. She dropped the juice box and it hit the floor, spilling everywhere. Tears came to her eyes, and she raised her hands to her face, sobbing.
Superboy and Beast Boy stood at the other end of the basement, not sure what to do.
"So," Beast Boy whispered, "This is M'gann, as a child?"
"I'm sorry," a voice said.
Superboy startled. "What?"
"I'm so sorry," the voice said again. The two looked at the child, who was still crying.
They slowly walked towards her. Superboy knelt in front of her.
"M-M'gann?" he asked tentatively. She looked up, still crying.
"I'm sorry," she said, but her mouth didn't form the words. She was speaking in their minds.
"What did you do? What happened to our friends?"
"I'm sorry. Two of them fell."
"What? What do you mean, 'fell'?" Beast Boy asked.
"The yellow and black one and the gray one. They fell. I didn't know."
"Then what about the rest?" Superboy asked.
"I caught them. The blue one and the red one and…" She trailed off, crying more.
"What does that mean?" Beast Boy asked, but his question was directed towards Superboy.
"I think…," Superboy said, "l think it's sort of like the training exercise. Remember when we told you about that?" Beast Boy nodded. "M'gann didn't let us go when we, er, 'died'. So we stayed in a coma until Martian Manhunter pulled us out. But I don't think that'll happen this time."
"Because," Superboy turned to the child, the young M'gann. "Where are you? Right now."
"No, M'gann, this is your mind. Where is your body? Where are you, physically?"
"In my room. At home."
Superboy sucked air through his teeth. "I was afraid of that. Do you know what year it is on Earth?"
The girl paused, thinking. "1974, I think."
"What?" Beast Boy shrieked, "How is that possible?"
"A shift in dimensional time. The League has dealt with this sort of thing before. That shift occurred right when M'gann, this M'gann, was subconsciously searching for a way to populate her world. She latched on and drew in the most familiar mind she could find; her own." Superboy was handling the situation surprisingly well.
"Oh," Beast Boy said, catching on, "So we were drawn in, too, because we were all connected by a telepathic link?"
"Exactly. Our bodies are still… wherever we were when we were brought here, but our minds are in the past, in 1974… here." He turned to M'gann. "But you have to let us go."
She shook her head. "I can't."
"Yes, you can. You have to."
"But if I do, you'll fall."
"We'll fall back into our own time, into our own bodies. You know that; that's why you dropped your disguise when M'ga-when Miss Martian disappeared. Because as soon as you realized that she's you, you figured this out." Superboy said. "You have to let all of us go."
Beast Boy stepped forward. "You said that Bumblebee and Batgirl, you said they fell, and you didn't catch them. Does that mean they're back in their bodies, back home?" Superboy and M'gann nodded at the same time. Beast Boy held out his hand. "Touch my hand. Make me disappear. But when you feel me fall, don't catch me." M'gann gave him a wary look.
"Are you sure you want me to…"
"Of course. Forty one years, Earth years, in your future, I trust you with my life. Why shouldn't I trust you now?" he smiled. "Do it. Make me disappear."
The girl slowly extended her hand, until finally, her fingers brushed Beast Boy's. He was gone. Immediately, she pulled her hand back and grasped both hands in front of her, squeezing her eyes tight. Superboy waited.
Finally, she opened her eyes again.
"Did you let him fall?" Superboy asked. M'gann nodded slowly. "Good. Now, what about the others? Blue Beetle, Robin, and Miss Martian?"
The girl ducked her head, like a child would if he or she had been caught doing something wrong. "No."
"Why not?" Superboy asked. The girl took a deep, shaky breath, and started crying again.
"What?" Superboy said, panicking, "What's going on?"
"I can't do it. I'm tired. If I tried, I don't think I could keep this world. I can't keep this world."
"What do you mean?" Superboy looked around. That's when it hit him; the staircase behind him was slowly disintegrating. The entire world had already faded away, and the little girl was doing all she could to keep the basement where they both stood there.
Superboy turned back to her. "If this world is fading, then we need to get out, but I'm guessing the only way for me to get out is if you make me disappear, right?" M'gann nodded. Superboy continued, "But what happens to Robin, Blue Beetle, and Miss Martian? If you let this world vanish, could you still let them go?"
"Maybe. If I only focused on letting them go. But this world has to disappear, first."
"Yes or no. Can you?"
M'gann looked at the floor. Superboy crouched, trying to get eye level with her, but being careful not to touch her.
"Look, I know that I'm asking a lot of you, but this is the only way, right?"
The girl nodded. "But you first. You can't stay here."
"Okay," Superboy held out his hand. "I believe in you."
The child's eyebrows scrunched together in concentration, and she extended her own hand. However, right before they touched, she stopped.
"Wait. What's your name?"
Superboy smiled. "Conner."
He awoke to bright lights. It took a second for the dread to leave his stomach, as he realized that he wasn't on the beach. He was in the infirmary.
Bumblebee and Batgirl were standing, seemingly long recovered from the ordeal. Bumblebee was talking with Mal, and Batgirl was standing by Robin, who was still in his bed, just becoming conscious. Gar was sitting up, but he didn't look like he'd quite recovered. Blue Beetle was in the same state as Robin.
Miss Martian, though, was still unconscious.
"M'gann," Superboy whispered. He stood from his bed, nearly collapsing in the process, but managed to stumble across the room to her bed. She didn't move, didn't react at all. He reached forward, whispering her name as he took her hand in his.
That was what did it. She took a deep breath and slowly opened her eyes, adjusting to what was around her. Superboy smiled.
Miss Martian sat up, only to start to sway as fatigue overtook her. Superboy sat on the edge of the bed and gently pulled her against him.
"How did we get here?" Robin asked.
"You didn't report back from your mission. We went looking for you in the bio-ship, and when we found you, you were all unconscious. Karen and Barbara woke up on the ride back, and they told me what they remember , but the rest of you didn't wake up until just now. What happened in there?" Mal asked.
The other five exchanged glances. Nobody spoke. It was done. Whatever had happened, it was over. In the grand scheme of things, it really didn't matter.
"She didn't want to let me go, not right away." Miss Martian whispered, later on, when she and Superboy were alone.
"Why did she, then? What brought you back?" he asked.
A/N: Finished. This took me three days.